Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tantalizing Landscapes, Pysanky Eggs & Singing Cows

When I discovered Etsy at the start of the summer, I began reading the forums to learn all about Etsy and how to have a successful store. I took note of who posted to the forums and was helpful and friendly. The store name ara133photography kept popping up and when I began to make treasuries, I learned that the talent behind the store was a woman named Amy. What I didn't learn until very recently is now Amy's store features some photographs taken by her husband AND she has another store on Etsy, ara133 that sells notecards, magnets and notebooks featuring her photography, Origami cranes and pysanky eggs. As part of my ongoing series of interviewing fellow Etsy sellers, I asked Amy if she'd take part in a round of Q&A and she happily obliged. Please take a few minutes to learn about the woman behind the beautiful photographs and check out her Etsy stores, ara133photography and ara133!

Your profile says you're a graduate student. What are you studying?

I’m studying Plant Biology; my research focuses on the way roots change their growth habits in response to nutrient stresses and plant hormones. Someday I hope to be a professor of biology in a small college. My dream is to develop a lab plan (including computer software and realistic manmade models) for courses such as physiology, so that no animals are harmed!

Do you take a camera with you everywhere you go?

Almost! I typically have at least my little digital camera – it fits nicely in my purse and is great for those unexpected shots I come across on the way to school! Sometimes I bring my SLR if I plan to take a walk at lunch around campus. I always bring both cameras on any trips!

I see your husband is now selling photos in your store. Is there any competition between the two of you?

Actually no, we don’t compete. Sometimes we do find that we’ve taken the exact same shot somewhere, which is kind of funny – we do tend to think alike! We have different strengths photographically and artistically, though, so I think our work is complementary. We also enjoy critiquing each other’s work, which helps us both develop! When we go on photoshoots (which is what any vacation or hike turns into!) we share both cameras - we just keep handing them off to each other depending on the type of shot we're taking. Also, my husband is 6'5" tall so he takes all of the 'tall' shots and I take most of the 'shorty' shots (things that require a very low point of view) :) He also doesn't like to have squirrels running around on his feet so he throws food to them for me while I photograph them, when we're getting very closeup shots.

I love your "And They Sang All Day" photograph. Did you already own the cow creamers or did you have a vision and then have to go out and collect the cows?

Thank you so much! Those are actually from my husband’s cow creamer collection! I only left one out, because it is a bunny! A few years ago we went to a little restaurant that served cream in a cow creamer, and he got such a kick out of it that the next time we saw one in a store, we bought it! The ones in the photograph come from all over – a Menonite shop in Pennsylvania, a few grocery stores, a tourist shop in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, a little store in Connecticut…

What is your favorite photograph in your store right now?

I have a hard time deciding!! Right now I really like “Katie’s Enchantment” and “At Tara in this fateful hour” – I like the dreaminess, plus they both look exactly how I imagined them in my head! My favorite by my husband right now is “And the dusk was full”. We are planning to get a print of that one matted and framed for our apartment soon, I love the way it just seems to dance with lights!

How do you envision your photography evolving in the next ten years?

I am starting to do some more photography collages and pieces that might be classified as digital art, though they are all based on my photography. I plan to continue developing my technique, and possibly start incorporating my drawings and paintings into my work.

It's really a joy for me to go beyond what is often termed traditional photography, and use layers, collage techniques and other digital art formats to bring to life the images in my mind. This is especially true when it comes to books I read - I have such vivid pictures in my mind, and it's really a fantastic feeling when I can create them using my photography.

In your second store you sell pysanky eggs. For those people that don't know about these intricate creations, could you please describe the process and a little bit about them?

Pysanky eggs are an Eastern European tradition that began in ancient times; one of more modern prevailing legend seems to be that the existence of the world as we know it depends on the making of pysanky every year! Traditionally, the eggs are kept whole, ie not drained, to symbolize life. However, I’ve heard many horror stories about very old eggs developing pressure inside and exploding during a hot spell or upon being touched.. the stench would be abominable! Therefore, I drain my eggs! To make these, I start with a plain white egg (or brown!). Lately I’ve been using goose eggs, as they offer a nice, large canvas, great for animal designs. Then I draw a design on in melted beeswax (I heat it in a pencil-sized funnel over a candle flame every few moments) – the parts that are waxed will be white. Then, with the wax still on, I dip it in the lightest dye I plan to use. For my red and white Christmas ornaments, only one dip in red is needed. For multi-colored eggs, the next step would be to draw more pattern on top of the dye… this pattern will be the color of that dye – you are basically protecting that color with the wax. Then the egg is dipped in a slightly darker color, and these steps are repeated until the egg is dipped into the darkest color (usually deep red, blue or black). The method I use to remove the wax is to hold the egg next to a candle flame and wipe away the melting wax with a lint-free tissue, bit by bit. Then I spray the egg with acrylic as a sealant. The whole process can take several hours to a few days depending upon the intricacy of the design.

Thank you, Amy for letting everyone get to know a little bit more about you. I know Etsy wouldn't be the same without your lovely work. Best wishes for a bright and successful future!


ara133photography said...

Wow, thank you SO much!! This is a wonderful feature, you are so sweet! :) Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!

Julie said...

Great interview with one of my favorite photographers!

Anonymous said...

Really nice interview!!! Really interesting.